Updated: May 5, 2021
The Windy City holds a diverse collection of nonprofit organizations working tirelessly to benefit Chicagoans’ society and environment. From Great Lakes preservation to prisoner rehabilitation, living in a more equitable Chicago society requires hard work, and these nonprofits are leading the way by generating real change. These organizations are always looking for dedicated individuals. Whether it’s with your time, work, or wallet, you too can help create a more sustainable future for you and your community. We’ve linked these organizations’ social media and websites. Please give them a look over and learn how you can make a genuine difference.
Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project
Crime is not a random occurrence but a symptom of a broken neighborhood, which, paradoxically, is often caused by our criminal justice system. A criminal justice system responsible for more crime is fundamentally broken. Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project (or PNAP) breaks this cycle of mass incarcerations through free access to the arts and education. Located between Palmer Square and Bucktown, PNAP has been offering courses since 2011, from Arts and Poetry to full-degree accreditation. Access to these programs, and the connections to the outside world they bring, is vital to transitioning back into the communities these individuals have left behind.
Greater Chicago Food Depository
Perhaps the largest nonprofit on our list, The Greater Chicago Food Depository, an affiliate of Feeding America, has over 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs throughout the Greater Chicago Area. 1 in 9 people in America struggles with food insecurity. This upcoming winter season, combined with the different challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, promises to be incredibly challenging.
Airgo Radio is your social and cultural hub for Chicago-based artists, rappers, poets, musicians, organizers, and changemakers. Airgo showcases these community influencers’ stories and perspectives through its weekly podcast series with the help of another inspiring Chicago-based initiative, The Black Youth Project. Listen to their main series of podcasts here, and view their sister-series On the Line, which offers direct coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic with the people’s perspectives directly putting their lives at risk.
Alliance for the Great Lakes
With their headquarters in Chicago and Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Grand Haven, and Milwaukee, Alliance for the Great Lakes has preserved a cornerstone of Chicago’s society and ecology since 1970. Join a network of thousands of volunteers tirelessly working to ensure cleaner beaches for all, or find other ways of getting involved today.
The Wetlands Initiative
From improving our water supply to reducing flooding, Wetlands provide a vital service to our ecological community and us. The Wetlands Initiative has been preserving and enhancing these distinctive ecosystems for the past 25 years. Transforming corn and soybean fields into wetlands is also an essential part of their mission, and these new wetlands are vital to keeping our prairie ecosystems healthy. Learn how you can get involved!
Chicago Cares works directly with local communities by partnering with non-profits, including neighborhood restoration initiatives like Teamwork Englewood and youth projects like Brightstar Community Youth Outreach (BCYO) and Chicago Youth Programs. Together, these organizations and more have engaged over 14,000 volunteers in 2019 alone. Help redefine volunteerism with Chicago Cares.
The Anti-Cruelty Society
Finally, a Chicago staple, The Anti-Cruelty Society, is the oldest nonprofit on our list at 121 years old. With over 7,000 pets sheltered, 1,600 abuse investigations resolved, and 63,000 total volunteer hours last year alone, you can trust that your contributions of time or money will make a tangible difference in the lives of Chicago’s less fortunate furry friends.
Chicago nonprofits are still making a real difference, especially now during these difficult and uncertain times. Whether it’s with your time or donations, you can safely support nonprofit organizations, and we hope we have inspired you to become an active member of your community. Keep up to date on the latest nonprofit news, sustainability tips, and change-making organizations here, and give our Instagram a follow @wellmadewrld for more!